Despite the best efforts of Ohio Valley Conference opponents, the No. 1 Belmont Bruins (26-4) and No. 2 Murray State Racers (26-4) will be battling for the first automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Should the Bruins and Racers both get into the NCAA Tournament? Yes. Will they both get invited to the field of 68? Probably not. Therefore, the Ohio Valley Championship game has the chance to be the best matchup of the entire day.
Ohio Valley Conference Championship Game: Evansville
Tip-off- 8 p.m.
TV: ESPN 2
Betting Line: Belmont -2.5 o/u 160
Belmont (18-9-2 ATS)
The Bruins and the Racers participated in one game during the season. Frankly, it wasn’t much of contest. The Bruins methodically dismantled the Racers, 79-66 in late January. However, it’s safe to say the earlier matchup means nothing when the two best teams take the stage on Saturday.
First of all, Dylan Windler scored five points in 36 minutes for the Bruins. Keep in mind, Windler leads the team with 21.5 points and 10.7 rebounds this season. He also produced 32 points and 21 rebounds during Friday’s 83-67 win over Austin Peay. What are the chances that Windler will only attempt seven shots in the championship game? It’s not likely with an NCAA Tournament berth on the line. Windley still grabbed 13 rebounds in the first game.
The Bruins also got 23 points from Kevin McClain. Freshman center Nick Muszynski poured in 20 points to dominate the paint. Keep an eye on that for Saturday. Muszynski injured his ankle late in the win on Friday night.
Murray State (18-10 ATS)
Meanwhile, Ja Morant was a shell of himself when both teams met in January. If you showed up to the game late, you may have missed Morant turn his ankle in the opening minutes. However, he still played 37 minutes. Morant scored 20 points on 5 of 19 shooting. He really wasn’t a factor due to the injury. Fortunately for the Racers, Morant seems to be playing the best ball of the season. Morant scored 29 points, including the game-winner against Jacksonville State.
The Racers had three other players reach double figures in Friday’s win. Darnell Cowart chipped in with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Shaq Buchanan scored 13 points. He was 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
Streaks: Both teams have been playing brilliantly down the stretch. Belmont has won 14 consecutive games. Murray State has won 10 straight games. Somebody will go home a loser on Saturday night. Then it will be a long seven days until Selection Sunday.
Pick- Belmont 84 – Murray State 80